The Oscar nominations came out yesterday, bringing more black nominees than ever before, with “Moonlight” leading the charge.
This is an excellent step for the Academy, especially after the last two years of taking flak from just about everybody for the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
Well, at least we’re on the road to solving the diversity problem.
But here to rain on the parade, as always, are mediocre white people. Never has there been a greater collection of mediocre white people than in “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle’s anthem to jazz-worshipping white douchebags.
To my eternal confusion, Hollywood decided this underwhelming musical was worthy of every accolade in the universe, showering it with a mind-boggling 14 nominations.
That ties with “Titanic,” “Ben-Hur” and “All About Eve” for the most in history. I am well aware I reside firmly in the minority on this, but I found “La La Land” to be disappointing more than anything else.
Emma Stone was good, the instrumentals were good and even the lyrics were good. But the vocals and the harmonies were so half-hearted and breathy, the direction and cinematography were nowhere near on par with the tightly wound masterpiece that was Chazelle’s last film, “Whiplash.”
Then there’s Ryan Gosling. Oh, Ryan Gosling.
The fact his low-grade vocals earned an Oscar nomination is shocking, especially considering others who could have gotten that spot. Joel Edgerton in “Loving” or Colin Farrell in “The Lobster” spring to mind as much more worthy contenders.
But enough about “La La Land.” There were actually other positives this year, starting with Lin-Manuel Miranda.
While I will continue to shut down those who say he’s a better songwriter than Stephen Sondheim, he is unquestionably one of the premier artistic talents of our time. He was one of the songwriters for likely best animated feature winner “Moana,” and one of the movie’s best songs, “How Far I’ll Go,” received a nomination for best original song.
If that song beats out the two tunes from “La La Land” to take home the trophy, Miranda will become the youngest EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner in history at only 37. Only 12 other people have ever won all four, and Miranda also has a Pulitzer to his name for “Hamilton.”
Finally, “Kubo and the Two Strings,” the latest stop-motion animation feature from Laika Entertainment, became the first animated film in 20 years to earn a nomination for best visual effects. Odds are it won’t win, but it’s nice to see animated films get recognized outside of their own little category.
Only time can tell whether or not these nominations will serve as a step to making the Oscars a more inclusive event.